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Can we see Jesus in the people we meet?

Jul 13, 2016

Dear Friends in Christ,
During last’s weeks Sunday homily, I stated this: “The only thing that we encounter each day that is immortal, outside of God, is other people.” All the rest of the stuff we do throughout the day no matter how important doesn’t take precedence over other people who are made in the likeness and image of God. Therefore, we need to show them reverence according to their dignity. Can we see Jesus in the people we meet?

The funeral for Philando Castile will be held at the Cathedral this week. The family wants the funeral to be ecumenical and peaceful. There will be people who will want to turn it into something other than prayer. It is disturbing to me that people want to turn everything into politics. Many people in the United States interpret what is going on in the world through the lenses of media and politics.

I would challenge the faithful to interpret what is going on in the world through the lense of divine revelation. Not that politics, history, sociology don’t have a place in interpretation but Jesus’ model of how to interpret is of the greatest importance. Even though Jesus lived two thousand years ago there is probably nothing new under the sun that has not been talked about in Scripture.

I know the violence in the United States is close to home but we must also keep in our prayers the Christians in Syria. They are the forgotten people. As many have stayed in their homes or become urban refugees outside of the U.S. camp system, they have received little aid and even less international attention. Their situation is dire and whether they will survive at all depends on events in the next several months.

If ISIS’ theocratic intolerance takes hold, Christians will face an impossible choice: flee, submit to forced conversation or be killed. It is amazing to me that in the first century St. Paul went to Syria to persecute Christians. After his own conversion, he was accepted into the church by Ananias a Syrian Christian. Christianity in this region was a major missionary force for centuries, spreading the faith not only to Europe but to China, India and Tibet.

Six centuries after Christianity took root, Islam appeared. During times of relative Christian and Muslim harmony, the two religions forged a common history in the region, with eastern Christianity contributing enormously to the scholarship of the Muslim world. See: “The Lost History of Christianity,” by historian Philip Jenkins. We may have lost some history but we can take the future by keeping in mind that the only thing we will encounter throughout our day that is immortal is other people. We can disagree with others but we cannot lose sight of their likeness and image of God.

Fr. Cory Rohlfing